Friday, November 21, 2008

General Motors seek handouts, free market won't lie down and die

Ford, Chrysler and GM are seeking $75 billion from the US taxpayer, the Republicans are minded to fork out and the Democrats are stalling in the Senate. We are seeing a transvaluation of values brought about by the financial crisis. Normally the Republicans should be saying "Let the Market (pbuh) decide" and the Democrats should be crying "What about the workers?".

In the case of the Big Three, this green says that the markets should decide. The product of the Big Three motor manufacturers is not wanted. American cars are an anachronism. It is crippled by its outsized energy demand. It is an engine of planetary destruction.

The Senate is demanding a business plan from the motor manufacturers. The plan should be how to produce small, light, low pollution, energy conserving hybrids. There should also be a diversification plan to produce things like gearboxes for wind turbines, and other renewable energy technology.

But Bush will probably find a way to support the doomed gas-guzzlers, in keeping with the orgy of environmental destruction he started yesterday.

Here we have evidence of the absolute detachment from reality that is implicit in the politics of the Far Right. They are ideologues, pure and simple. For them, the market is the ultimate philosophical (or theological, even) reality, not a social construct that forms part of a larger social construct called the economy, which is a small but important part of a larger, God-given (just a figure of speech, Dawkinians, not a dogma, so no need for you to go off on one) reality called Life on Earth.

It is sobering to realise that the Tories over here are following the same ideological path. They are prattling about cutting Government spending in a recession. If banks won't lend, and Government won't spend, we are back to bartering. Is this really what the Conservative Party wants? Us shivering in a refuge under the stairs, trying to keep warm over a candle that we swapped for a bundle of 1990 Hello! magazines? Yes, they do want that outcome, because anything else is an admission that their ideology is fatally flawed, and being Right means never admitting you are wrong.

There is an elegant symmetry between the ideological failures of Right and Left. The Command Economy crashed in 1989 (give or take), and the Free Market economy crashed in 2009. The old polarity, the antithesis between socialism and individualism and communism, free market capitalism and the command economy, that dominated the last century, is now history. Ideologues like Nigel Lawson, who is part of the tiny but overly influential group of right-wingers in denial over global warming, are the walking dead, political zombies who are haunting the airwaves.

The right-left dialectic is a social construct that can never be resolved in its own terms, that is in terms of man as the measure of all things, because they are both absolutising one aspect of the human being - either our individual aspect or our social aspect. The only possible relation between these two ideologies is interminable debate or violent conflict.

The right-left antithesis can only be resolved in a matrix that extends beyond the human, that is based on the web of life that sustains human existence - in other words, in political ecology, that sets the human economy in the context of the living system of the planet.

I am aware that this realisation is limited to a minority of green thinkers, but it is extending rapidly, spreading like a virus; the Green New Deal has reached the United Nations. We have a choice. There is hope. Not certainty, but at least, hope.

To bring all this philosophising back to the present situation, the answer to the recession is to pour money not into General Motors, which is an energy drain, but into benign energy sources, which are, well, energy source. That is where the employment lies, and that is where economic salvation lies.

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